HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Grow-Ops Linked To Organized Crime
Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2004
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Darrell Bellaart
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Nanaimo's flourishing underground marijuana industry feeds organized crime,
Nanaimo RCMP say.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officers seized a huge shipment of pot last
week that was allegedly part of a shipment from a Nanaimo salal supplier,
and Mounties say it's likely just the tip of the iceberg.

An anti-drug Nanaimo RCMP detail known as the Green Team has raided one
grow-op, on average, every other day since the team was re-united in

"They would do more, but they don't have the manpower to do it," said Const.
Beth Blackburn, the detachment's drug education officer.

A typical raid yields 200 plants, enough to yield 100 kilograms of pot.

Police are taking a steady stream of tips directly to the detachment, or
through Crime Stoppers, from residents concerned about suspicious activities
in their neighbourhood.

Most grow-ops are in rented houses, often owned by absentee landlords.

It's now so common police usually ignore those with one or two plants for
home use. They're out to catch criminals.

"Anything over 10 plants is being exported right down the California coast,"
where it's worth double its B.C. value, Blackburn said.

"When you're exporting like that, it's organized crime, either Asian,
Vietnamese or motorcycle gangs, no matter what you call it."

Police estimate the annual proceeds of organized crime at $6 billion in B.C.
alone, and an underground economy that size has huge social costs.

"For example, they get somebody drug addicted and then to support their
crime they do shoplifting, car thefts or break-ins," said Blackburn.

Police need help fighting the problem.

"When someone walks up to a real estate agent and plops down $350,000 in
cash, light bulbs should go off," Blackburn said.

"When you see large sums of cash coming through and people don't question
it, we're not doing ourselves any favours."
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